Thursday, December 5, 2013

Storm


Storm by Johanna

Returning from the funeral. Quiet but for the wind. There is no rain, no thunder, only the distant flash of lightening in the eastern plains. Was it a night like this one? Driving north on the front range we watch the bolts strike out and reach the far corners of the dark sky with branching fingers. The darkness alight with hidden objects – billboard, farm house, factory, a car abandoned on the side of the road. Is this how it happened? I roll down the window and the air is warm and thick. The taste is metallic. My arm hair bristles. Did she see the car coming? A flash just bright enough to show us the world.

***

Occasional by Forrest

Out of the way, the storm chasers had fled towards the danger, only returning at dusk, but still hungry. We had a few eggs left which hadn't flown away, a loaf of bread not broken. We'll eat it all, they boasted, and we believed them until they did eat it all. Then they noticed we had nothing left, and asked if they could have that as well. We gave them the last of it for their equipment to record. They laughed, patted each other on the back. The best yet! they cheered, watching the dials move, the needles tremble. Our admiration was a helpless thing, little more than what the weather can be on occasion here, waving to the gathering crowd.

***

Malice by Lyle

Out the car window the signs & marquees gave way to storm clouds in that woozy way alcohol has of double exposing images in your head over time as you stare out the window of a car. Strung together by time and distance. An equation, perhaps. And you driving said something to me or not to me now and again. Sometimes with a light laugh afterwards and I smile and am warm in the heater-filled compartment watching the clouds roll in quickly and with malice.

***

When the Aliens Finally Arrive by Alan

I saw this coming in one of my earlier journals. It was several years ago. Don’t quite remember when. I was driving to Tennessee with Tim in the front seat mad with joy and love and cigarettes and nothing to fear. All of a sudden, the idea for a horror story.

When the aliens finally arrived, I shared with Tim, they made their way onto the systems that connected us. They bore into the wires that ran across the country and crept inside the billboards and interstate signs. They marked our tepid crossings with deep and profound vigor. They studied us as a race. They came from the clouds like a gentle rain.

How did you know they were there? Tim was curious. I was writing while driving, looking up between mile markers. I was sketching furiously in the fading light. The characters on the page began to lie on top of each other as it got darker. The more I wrote, the less I understood.

Maybe only we could see them. Tim was wild-eyed now. I stopped and looked up, away from the road. His head was half-out the window, his smile a kite in the wind.

Who?

The crazy ones.

The crazy ones, I repeated. Years later. In the onset of winter. At the sign of a storm.

***

American Wedding by Nicole

It happened in a court house. In a room with a conference table. In a little town I had not heard of the year before. Just the two of us, your brother, a judge on his lunch break, and a gray copy machine with it’s back turned to the room.

The judge pronounced my name wrong and again pronounced my new hyphenated name wrong. When it came time I dropped the ring. Watched it roll under the mahogany table before squatting down in-between the vows and my turn to say I do. I had been married once before. So long ago that it seemed like a dream. The memory folded in on itself like a worn blanket in the bottom of a closet.

I felt the carpet against my knees the hem of my black and white dress pushed up against my thighs as I stretched my fingers under the swivel chair. I must have made a terrible bride. I refused a new dress. I refused a new ring. I refused to let anyone where it seemed there was only us and more us.

I left my family for this tiny room. 1500 miles of distance and my first snow. The wind waiting outside to burn my cheeks. For my hand franticly searching. For the ring I would return to your finger before exiting the room and making the long drive home.

***

Unpredictable Variations on the Face by Bill

A quick line of them walked in at dusk, five shadows dug against the storm clouds and encroaching night wearing long gray coats and fine, brilliant red scarves. Their necks and cheeks gleamed with freshly shaved skin. The smell of vetiver came ahead of them. Their shoes clicked on the boards and their arms swung easily at their sides. The knives we all knew were tucked away in their vests against the side of their ribs on the far side of their heart. Among them I recognized my friend, so different and strange with the dark hair.

It was stupid to come in tonight with only a pen, when they had been reported so close to the border of the county. A pen is of such limited use, sharply tipped but easily bent or broken if the blow strikes a bone. A hard knife with a strong tang will break through half the bones in the body on a good thrust. Best bet with a pen is an ice-pick strike — the brain stem or the eye.

They approached the bar as I rose and came toward them from the back of the room. I kept my head lowered, staring shoulder level, letting my gaze rise only as I passed my friend, asked and answered our questions in quick succession of eye movements. They moved around me and waited. Finally I reached out a hard and pull the scarf from one of them. The softness of the fabric was exceptional as I placed the center of the scarf over my eyes and tied it off behind my head. They placed their hands on my shoulders and led me toward the door and out into the night with the pen still in my pocket.